Jackie Gleason, the hilarious comedian, actor, writer, composer, and musician, was one of the leading entertainment stars of the 1950's and 60's. He passed away after battling with cancer in 1987. He was 71 years old.
His last role was in 1986’s comedy-drama Nothing in Common, playing along with Tom Hanks. During production, Jackie discovered he had terminal colon cancer, which had metastasized to his liver. At that time, Gleason was also suffering from phlebitis, diabetes, and hemorrhoids.
He kept his health problems private, but many people suspected he was seriously ill. One evening, after a long day of filming, he told his daughter:
I won't be around much longer.
A year later, the beloved actor passed away at his home in Florida.
After so much time, his stepson, actor Craig Horwich, still remembers his father. In an exclusive interview he said:
Jackie really marched to his own beat.
His words refer to the unprecedented at the time move – Jackie canceled his own show. "The Honeymooners" sitcom became widely popular in 1955. The original idea was to run for two seasons with an option for a third one. But Gleason changed the plans and canceled the show after one year. He believed it was not good.
In 1956, the legendary comedian revived his original variety hour, including "The Honeymooners", after which he won a Peabody Award.
Craig describes his father, who married his mom Marilyn Taylor when Craig was about 12, as a confident man. He said:
Certainly from when I was around, but even well into earlier in his life, he enjoyed being gregarious, and when he was gregarious he wanted to be around the most gregarious. He wanted to be at the head of the table with as many people and all the wonderful food and fun that came with it. But then he also had a great pleasure of reading and listening to music and solitude.
Gleason also has two biological daughters, Geraldine and Linda, from his first marriage to Genevieve Halford. Linda has become a Tony-Award-winning actress, her son Jason Patric is also an actor.
It looks like the acting talent runs in the blood.